An ex-con has pleaded guilty to first-degree murder for killing an 80-year-old Hemet man, encasing his body in concrete and using the victim's credit cards in a spending spree.
Thomas Jeffrey Brooks pleaded guilty to killing Edward Andrews, 80, his pen pal who lived in a mobile home park in Riverside County. Brooks and an accomplice encased Andrews' body in a concrete orb that was the centerpiece of a rock garden in Brooks' landlord's backyard in San Diego.
A homeowner found Andrew's body in the back yard of a North Park home, prosecutors said.
Brooks also withdrew about $24,000 from the victim's accounts and made $108,000 in phony check deposits over eight months, prosecutors said.
They say Brooks and Andrews became pen pals while Brooks was in a Victorville prison. Brooks met the victim at his home in Hemet after he was released from prison.
In an act of desperation, Brooks tried to take his own life at the County Jail back in September. He was found bleeding and unconscious in his jail cell.
The San Diego County Sheriff's Department said Brooks attempted suicide by cutting his neck. He also made a noose to hang himself. The jail medical staff was able to revive Brooks and take him to a local hospital, deputies said.
A co-defendant in the case pleaded guilty to being an accessory to murder and other felony charges.
Brooks will be sentenced to 75 years to life in prison when he is sentenced June 22.